Famed Nickelodeon Animator Launches Christian Cartoon Series for Kids: The Garden

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Emmy-nominated animator Butch Hartman made his name with a series of Nickelodeon television hits, including the long-running show The Fairly Odd Parents. He’s now using his talents to spread the Good News of Christ.

Hartman and his wife, Julieann, recently released the Christian-themed animated series The Garden, which follows best friends Lenny the Lion and Lucy the Lamb, who work inside a garden for God, who they call “The Boss.” In each episode, He gives them an assignment and teaches them Scripture.

The Garden is available on The Garden app and various faith-based streaming platforms. The app features a curriculum, games, music and a shop. Butch Hartman also worked on The Garden Children’s Bible, published by Thomas Nelson. It includes illustrations from Hartman and characters from the series.

He is the animator, and she is the producer for the series.

“Nickelodeon was amazing – I had a great time there. But it was time to go. And I really wanted to make a Christian kids cartoon,” Hartman told Christian Headlines. “… I wanted to make it two characters that maybe were new that kids didn’t know [and] that they [could] get to know – an original concept. Where yes, we could tell Bible stories, but we could also focus on the fun lives of these two characters.”

Butch and Julieann Hartman were saved 23 years ago, in 2000. The Garden, they say, is the Bible-based series they wish they had when they were raising their own children.

“We didn’t even know how to teach our kids,” he said. “So we would just all go to church on Sundays, and they go to kids church, and we go to the adult church. And we would just hope that somehow it would just work out, you know. So as our kids got older, we learned, oh, wait, we’ve got to teach our kids – don’t throw that on the church. That’s got to be taught in your house.”

Christian animation, he said, is “very hard to sell and to pitch” in “the secular world.”

“And so we just decided to make our own,” he said.

Hartman was nominated for four Primetime Emmys for The Fairly OddParents. He also worked on Danny Phantom and T.U.F.F Puppy.

Julieann Hartman said she hopes that in 20 years, people will come up to Butch and say, “It’s because of you I learned about Jesus.”

“I just encourage anybody out there that obviously knows what they’re doing to start making Christian content for kids,” she told Christian Headlines, noting there is plenty of content for adults. “… The kids need to have this, and so this is our part in bringing the Gospel to the children in the world.”

Photo courtesy: ©The Garden, used with permission.

Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chroniclethe Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.

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